[Please note: although we talk about so very many comics in this episode, I decided to pull images exclusively from the brilliant Transformers vs. G.I. Joe by Tom Scioli and John Barber. I accept full responsibility and apologize for any resulting cognitive dissonance.]

0:00-21:06: Greetings from your tech-confused team (or as Graeme suggests far too late for our actual opening, RiRi Lester and Victor Von McMillan), who are dealing with a strangely loud recording.  Adjust your volume to taste, and buckle up, buttercup, as we start in on almost immediately on the exciting world of comic news (Marvel edition).  We cover Marvel’s announcements for its forthcoming Marvel Now! launch (a new Invincible Iron Man, a new Infamous Iron Man, new Champions title, U.S. Avengers, etc.,), the timing of their information release, etc. Discussed:  all of the above, plus: Jeff misunderstands Graeme’s use of the word singularity and so just parrots Graeme’s point; a casual invitation for a tech-talented Whatnaut to put the movie Interstellar to good use; Marvel has never had a black female writer ever; David Walker getting backing at Marvel; and more.
21:06-43:42: A bit more about Iron Man, which Jeff has not been following at all, but Graeme as a reader is a little concerned that the teases that Bendis made when starting the book less than a year ago are already set to either be truncated or abandoned.  Discussed: abandoned storylines; Captain America: Agent of Hydra and Marvel editors and Marvel creators literally saying whatever they want, even if it bears no relation to reality, just to sell a book; Dr. Doom in name only; whether one of the characters in the Champions is a spoiler; and more.
43:42-50:11: After covering Marvel’s outwardly confident movement toward its next nonboot, and DC’s more conciliatory, albeit coded, approach to Rebirth, Graeme wonders if Marvel’s strangely rushed and off announcements have a lot in common with the DC You marketing blunders, which thank goodness at least gives us a little bit of time to talk about Midnighter by Steve Orlandao and ACO, which Graeme fully spoils but also makes sound very satisfying and great.  Also discussed: Black Canary; liking books enough to stick around; Bourne Identity Aquaman; and more.
50:11-58:26: “You’re not reading the DC Rebirth books, right?” asks Graeme, gently, hoping to avoid a prime Jeff rant.  And that almost kind of works?  But Jeff has read the first two issues of Batman by Tom King and David Finch; but Graeme is really onboard with Aquaman after the events of the second issue.  Also discussed: the second issue of Batman, Jeff’s frustration and Graeme’s theory about the last page reveal; and more.
58:26-1:10:46:  Graeme went on a back-issue spree at his excellent local store Cloud Nine Comics where he purchased almost the entire run of Hawk and Dove by Barbara and Karl Kesel, so Graeme gets to recap the history of the original Hawk and Dove, the second team from the late ‘80s, the very, uh, offbeat conclusion to the series, and a lot of discussion about DC’s Armageddon 2001, an event DC does not seem particularly keen to reprint and which *dove*tails with the end of Hawk and Dove.  Also discussed: Armageddon: The Alien Agenda; Zero Hour; and the punting of Captain Atom’s next series.
1:10:46-1:35:01:  The other title Graeme of which bought a lot of back issues?  Marvel Fanfare, the prestige paper anthology/inventory title edited by Al Milgrom; “Every issue is an oddity,” is how Graeme describes it quite nicely but wow, some of these oddities!  An Angel story by Ann Nocenti and David Mazzuchelli, to name just one!  Also discussed: 80s Marvel vs. 70s Marvel; the delight that is the art of Tony Salmons; Trevor Von Eeden in the ‘80s which, of course, makes it all but impossible to avoid bringing up Dick Giordano, Robert Loren Fleming, and Thriller; an amazing Jim Shooter anecdote about Bill Sienkiewicz; spitballing new and exciting Patreon extras; Jim Owsley’s promotional material for The Falcon; and, hoo boy, more.
1:35:01-1:40:39:  And what’s Jeff been reading? He’s re-read and didn’t quite finish the remarkable Transformers vs. G.I. Joe by Tom Scioli and John Barber, having only made it up to issue #10 on this particular go round, but he has many positive things to say including the statement, “Transformers vs. G.I. Joe is the Paul’s Boutique of comic books.”
1:40:39-2:00:52:  Unfortunately, Jeff was not nearly as impressed with Dark Night: A True Batman Story by Paul Dini and Eduardo Risso that he picked up on the long-ago recommendation of a certain nameless someone whose initials are Graeme McMillan.  Part of the problem is clearly Jeff’s expectations for the book, which is not entirely fair to the book, but there are other problems at work, insists Jeff.  Discussion ensues! (To the point of uncomfortable stridency on the part of Jeff.)
2:00:52-2:01:54: By contrast, Jeff read The Colonel Corps, the second issue of promotional DC/KFC (KFDC?) comics starring Colonel Sanders and the DC multiverse.  He thought it was pretty good!
2:01:54-2:29:14: And finally, to wrap up this edition of “Jeff’s Bad Faith Adventures,” after railing about the way the launch of Comixology Umlimited treated creators, he…signs up for Comixology Unlimited?  Jeff, what is up with that?  But also: what’s the deal with Comixology Unlimited? Discussed:  searching on Comixology Unlimited; Doc Savage Archives Vol. 1; As The Gods Will; the generosity of Chris Arrant; Hoopla (which, contrary to what Jeff says, will allow him to borrow graphic novels now); and more.
2:29:14-end:  Closing comments, but with some bonus bits of commentary from Graeme about “Not Brand Echh”!  Look for us on  Stitcher! Itunes! Twitter together and separately: Graeme and Jeff! MattTumblr,  and  on Patreon where a wonderful group of people make this all possible, including the kind crew at American Ninth Art Studios and Empress Audrey, Queen of the Galaxy, to whom we are especially grateful for their continuing support of this podcast.
Next week:  Skip Week!  There are some crazy reasons but join us in two weeks for the next episode of Baxter Building, where we’ll be discussing issues #160 to #170 of the Fantastic Four!

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29 comments on “Wait, What? Ep. 204: Ask for Janice.

  1. Jeff Lester Jul 10, 2016

    And for those of you who need that pure fix of podcast hyperlink for your cutting and pasting pleasure:

  2. Is “ree ree” the correct pronunciation? I look at “Riri” and hear “rear ee”. (Sub MARE in er. Mag NEET o.)

    Is Mark Waid becoming the Bob Haney of our time? At least in terms of the middle aged man who is convinced he understands the teenage experience? I’m not in love with any other aspect of that comparison, but it does seem that Waid has tried the teenage book several times in the last few years.

    Yay, Thriller call-out.

  3. Regarding the “without Bendis you wouldn’t have Riri” conundrum, I think the answer’s been shown with Bendis’ own career. Hickman’s first major book at Marvel was Secret Warriors, co-written with Bendis. Bendis himself started writing Daredevil by taking over from his good friend David Mack. Beyond Bendis. among Matt Fraction’s early gigs were runs at The X-Men and Immortal Iron Fist, both co-written with Ed Brubaker. Then Kieron Gillen took over the X-Men with an accommodation period when he co-wrote the comic with Fraction. And Rick Remender took over The Punisher after he co-wrote an arc of Punisher War Journal with Fraction.

    So I think we can have the cake and eat it too by having Bendis co-write the book with someone else. Have Bendis (and Aaron and Waid) officially mentor a new generation of creators as he (and Brubaker) did in the late-aught/early 2010s. Bendis would probably be very apt for the job thanks to his teaching gigs and book on writing.

  4. Re: Jeff moral hypocrisy

    Comparing Jeff’s marvel boycott and his defense Image Unlimited is fun and all, but the real fun is in comparing that defense with his habit of buying a digital copy of a comic he already has because he can’t be bothered digging up the physical copy. Also bobbleheadgate last week also makes for a spicy contrast.

    (I still think you’re a good egg Jeff, just having fun snarking is all)

  5. Mike Loughlin Jul 11, 2016

    A comic book shop in my area bought a few customers’ collections. The owners have been selling miniseries & runs for cheap. Most of it’s comics I don’t care about, but I bought the entire Thriller series for $1. It’s borderline incomprehensible and also awesome. I’ve always liked Trevor Von Eeden, and Thriller features some of his best work.

    Transformers vs. GI Joe: I wasn’t sure they’d stick the landing but my aprehension was groundless. Issue 13 brought the whole story together with both fireworks and a ton of great smaller moments. I will miss the hell out of this series.

    • daustin Jul 12, 2016

      TvG has been nothing but incredible from start to finish. And the final issue, far from disappointing, is an absolute high point. And as someone who was brought to comics by Hama’s G.I. Joe, the callbacks and payoffs were particularly sweet. I found myself laughing out loud at the sheer audacity of Scioli’s images and ideas. Speaking in generalities to avoid spoiling the finale, there are moments in issue 13 – the General Flagg identity reveal, a double page splash that concludes the Earth/Cybertron conflict decisively (nice use of Italy!), Megatron’s final fate, the bonkers epilogue(s) – where I couldn’t turn the page, I just had to marvel at what had to be done. I hope Larry Hama is reading this and appreciates it (though I just just as easily see a curmudgeonly dismissal).

  6. Something for your perusal: The original DC Comics video promotional for Zero Hour:

    • Jeff Lester Jul 11, 2016


      The lines they gave Parallax! And the actor’s delivery! It would’ve been amazing even if they hadn’t shot all the editors up with horse tranquilizers. Stunning.

    • Brendan Jul 13, 2016

      Thank you.

  7. Person Of Con Jul 11, 2016

    I get Graeme’s argument about Bendis, and agree with it to an extent–without Bendis, RiRi wouldn’t exist, and he does deserve credit for putting her into the spotlight, just as he deserves credit for really making Miles Morales a part of the comic universe, and a host of other such spotlights.

    But I feel like he’s earned some ire too. I’m still annoyed about the way he wrote Iceman coming out for example. Put aside any arguments about the mind reading aspect, or whether it fits the character given their history, or whether we need more gay characters, because the answer to the last is yes, of course, and the other two, I’ve been entirely persuaded by Jay of Jay and Miles Xplain the Xmen and their argument on the subject. What bothered me more about the whole thing is that it happened in the second last issue of Bendis’ Xmen run. There was no build up or development to the revelation–it just happened, and it was left up to other writers to explore what it actually means to the characters (or rather, both characters, including present day Bobby). At worst, the whole thing is then a publicity stunt that didn’t get much thought put into it. At best, it feels like Bendis had an idea at the tail end of the run and decided that given the nature of the change, it was still worth doing (or maybe it was an editor decision, in which case, I’m blaming him entirely unfairly.) I actually don’t have a problem with the latter, and more gay characters is a good shift for Marvel. But it also speaks to a tendency of Bendis that Graeme feared for the Iron Man title, that on a title he isn’t writing indefinitely, he tends to have pacing issues in dealing with plot points he raises. (Keep in mind that iceman’s coming out happens at the Xmen run where Cyclops promised for so long to have a revolution without actually having one that his failure to launch was forced into becoming a plot in the story.) I honestly don’t have a lot of faith in Bendis as a storyteller who can carry out a longterm storyline with a meaningful end, especially with a more diverse character. (Remember all those things he had Storm do on Avengers? Yeah, me neither.)

    And more specifically to RiRi, (as if this post wasn’t long enough), it kind of bugs me that most people seem to forget that Marvel is currently already publishing a book with a whiz kid black female lead, in Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur. They’re admittedly different age-wise, and I’m sure different in other ways (we haven’t got enough RiRi yet to really judge her personality) but it’s frustrating that that Marvel’s more diverse characters don’t seem to “count” unless they have the Bendis seal of approval. And I realize that argument is more than a little irrational; he’s had nothing to do with Ms Marvel, for example, and Moongirl got its moment of publicity at launch, and it’s not to fair to blame Bendis for being popular, or blame Marvel for using his popularity to launch new characters, or bring attention to existing ones. (I’m trying to avoid a Guardians of the Galaxy siderant here.) But for me, the “Superstar Brian Bendis Creates Diverse Character RiRi” overshadows the “new cool diverse character RiRi” headline., and when it gets to the point that the story is less the new character and more the middle aged white guy who keeps writing new diverse characters…yeah, that bugs me, even though Bendis’ track record, through Miles and others, is better than most.

    Thus concludes my overly rambling, essay-length anti-Bendis rant. His Daredevil and Ultimate Spider-Man runs are so good though.

  8. Rob G Jul 12, 2016

    I, like you guys, find Marvel’s trend of taking it’s iconic superheroes (Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America and Iron Man) and filling their roles with minority characters as nothing more than a cynical ploy to point to it’s diversity and inclusiveness, especially when those characters are written, drawn and edited by middle aged white men. I would rather see new minority characters created, written, and drawn by women, and men and women of color. I am very much enjoying Marvel’s new Nighthawk series, written by David Walker and drawn by Ramon Villalobos. I am also looking forward to DC’s Vigilante written by Gary Phillips, with art by Elena Casagrande Giulia Brusco. Why aren’t the Big Two actively promoting these two books? What do you guys think?
    I’m also truly curious about the genesis of RiRi and when the decision was made to make her Iron Man/Woman. I remember reading that after the last Marvel retreat, at which Ta’Nehisi Coates was present, he sent a long memo to Marvel Editorial and Brian Bendis, as to what he thought the reaction and ramifications would be of killing War Machine, a black man (again). Obvioulsy, he was opposed to the idea. I doubt Coates would have sent that memo if they had informed him at the time of the retreat of their plans for RiRi. I suspect that the creation of her character and her elevation to Iron Woman (at least for the time being) was not planned at the retreat and was mostly probably done solely in reaction to Coates’ missive. Had Coates known about that decision at the retreat, I doubt he would have written that memo. I guess Marvel should be lauded to some degree for taking that step, even though it appears to have occurred after Marvel being publicly shamed by it’s prized black writer and appears to be nothing more than a publicity stunt.

    • daustin Jul 13, 2016

      Weren’t Nighthawk and Vigilante both also white guy heroes originally, albeit not “iconic” like Spider-Man, Thor, Captain America and Iron Man?

      • Rob G Jul 13, 2016

        @daustin You’re right about that. I guess it feels different to me somehow? It seems like these new characters actually have a chance to claim ownership of these alter egos because they’re not iconic. On the other hand, because they’re not well known superheroes, they might not find an audience. I’m just hoping these characters will be “more authentic” given the creative teams involved.

        • Also, from an in-universe point of view, there is a difference between one character replacing another and a character being an alternate version of the original (or reusing the name years after the original stopped appearing), which arguably both Nighthawk and Vigilante are. To me, even Miles seems different than Jane Foster Thor or Riri Iron Man.

        • daustin Jul 14, 2016

          I tend to think it’s just that the majority of people don’t give a shit about the original Nighthawk or Vigilante.

          I tend not to care about the replacements one way or the other. Nothing that Marvel hasn’t done a million times in the past, it’s just that they are bunching them all up together this time.

  9. Zaragosa Jul 12, 2016

    Loved your review of the Paul Dini Batman book, Jeff. I haven’t read it yet, so I’m not sure where I stand between you and Graeme’s opinions. But I did very much appreciate your flat rejection of the lower standards we (in geekdom) seem to have for “graphic novels” versus “real novels” in terms of thematic, intellectual, and (dare I say) spiritual weight. I’ve long felt that hardly any OGNs meet the litmus test for what we would call “great literature” in the world of prose novels; and yet, they can, obviously, as we’ve seen amply demonstrated in the work of Moore, Spiegelman, Los Bros, Chris Ware, et al. Would love to hear your thoughts on whether any of the multi-volume manga epics you love (Tezuka, especially) do better on this front, although it may be a tough comparison in some ways — there are certainly myriad tricky elements when it comes to comparing Tezuka to Pynchon or Murakami — but I’d be thrilled to hear your thoughts on where manga fits on your critical continuum in respect to something like the, in your eyes, more shallow and “glib” Dini book.

    I also must chime in to sing the praises of Thriller — Trevor Von Eeden’s work on that series is sublime, truly great comic booking — deeply idiosyncratic, yet in its own way, masterful storytelling. Von Eeden’s cover to issue number one is a perfect composition (great colors by Tom Ziuko). Graeme, I hope you do track down those easy issues of Thriller because it would be phenomenal to hear you and Jeff discuss that run!

    • Ethan Jul 14, 2016

      Jeff is such a good friend to not be mad at Graeme for the Dini book. In fact, I bet Jeff will only get mad after he buys it in digital because it’s on sale on Comixology, but then he’ll just be mad at Amazon…

  10. Ethan Jul 13, 2016

    Couple of things, guys. Great pod, still listening.

    1. On the topic of the misfortune that a character like RiRi is being written by Yet Another White Guy… I dunno if you missed this or were avoiding it because it’s someone’s personal life. But Bendis was open when talking to EW about Miles Morales’ relaunch as just “Spider-Man” that two of his kids are African American. I dunno if that’s “enough” but raising two kids of color is going to give him a better perspective than many other white writers.

    2. On the more fun side, I loved your history lesson about Armageddon 2001. I never knew any of that. Graeme, you might enjoy going back to re-read the origin of the Captain Atom villain Major Force. Yes, Mr. Refrigerator himself. It’s incredibly cynical and awesome and probably still works in 2016. Captain Atom #12 (1988).

  11. If it’s not too late, and I get a vote, I’d vote for more Chatty Cat stories from Graeme, with perhaps a Chatty Cat ringtone. Graeme’s stories just make that cat seem like the Happiest Cat Ever, which I enjoy. Maybe as a Marvel Two-in-One paired with The Angriest Dog in the World (old L.A. Reader fans will get the reference).

  12. Murray Jul 16, 2016

    Loved hearing the Thriller talk and I’d totally be up for more exploration of that book. But Jeff, I think you’ve got it wrong when you say that tension between Fleming and Von Eeden is what led to the break up of the creative team. It sounds to me like it was a conflict with editorial that wrecked the book.

    • I’m sure (well, 80% sure) I remember an editorial or letter page response or something in Thriller in which the editor responded to feedback they were getting that the series was ‘great but incomprehensible’ – the response was, paraphrasing: ‘that’s nice, but it isn’t supposed to be incomprehensible. That’s not a good thing.’ It seemed a pretty frank and explicit knock of the fleming/von eeden combo.

      As a big, but bewildered, fan of the series at the time I understood the creative team change very clearly as an admission that whatever its merits, the series was too obtuse for most readers and needed a major rethink. Doesn’t mean that was the real story, but it did seem that way to me at the time: editorial vs creative team, not creative vs creative.

      Of course, I adored the fleming/von eeden version, even while not understanding half of it; and what replaced it was execrable.

      • Murray Jul 27, 2016

        I think you’re right. I remember that letter now, too. I was definitely left with the impression that the creative differences were between editorial and the creative team. Why else would Von Eeden walk off the book an issue later? Surely if he had been dissatisfied with Fleming, he would have stayed on the book once he left. Instead we got Dubay and Niño and the results were… terrible? Disastrous?
        I like to think that somewhere on earth 2 that series was completed by the original creative team.

  13. LAndrew Jul 18, 2016

    I remembered really liking HAWK AND DOVE–it was a solid middle-of-the-pack superhero book with a slice of soap opera, back when we could have such things.

    But full marks for mentioning what a delirious mess the last issue is without the achingly painful symbolism of Hawk beating up Uncle Sam and being really sad about it.

  14. Jeff,

    I don’t know the logistics of how different library systems buy into Hoopla, but in my neck of the woods it is a pretty great service. It and Marvel Unlimited are the primary ways that I read comics nowadays. Different companies (and different creators in Image’s case) have different levels of representation, but there is a ton of material on there.

    Dark Horse has most of their back catalog on there including almost all of Hellboy, BPRD, Buffy, and Conan.

    In the Image section, Saga, Chew, Lazarus, Fatale, Velvet, Criminal, Walking Dead, and Invincible are current and complete within the last trades.

    Both Boom and Valiant have trades and single issues available including current series in Boom’s case.

    DC is the most sparingly represented, but most of their classic, evergreen trades such as Watchman, Dark Knight Returns, Sandman, etc are on there.

    It’s not perfect, the user interface is horrible, they don’t publicize new additions to the service and it’s very hard to find stuff by browsing. You have to specifically search for things to find them, but for a free service I find it amazingly bountiful. I would give it a second try. You would probably get more out of it than Comixology Unlimited.

    • Jeff Lester Jul 20, 2016

      Thanks, Tom!

      My local branch finally supports the graphic novel arm of Hoopla so I’ve since downloaded one trade (a 90s Batman book, because of course I did), so I’m hoping to have a better grasp of the service soon. But I’m sure this info will come in handy as I move forward. Thanks again!

  15. David Morris Jul 29, 2016

    So, when we borrow books from the library, what do the creators get?